Thursday, September 1, 2011

Unicorn Revisions

Today is the day my revisions are due in the Unicorn Project. I'm going to give it another once over before I turn it in tonight, but I'm pleased to say I feel pretty good about turning it in.  I would have loved for the group to critique this version of the story, but we only get one critique and it wouldn't as good a shape as it is now without that first critique.

Revisions took much longer than I anticipated. I figured writing the first draft would have taken the longest amount of time, but revising took much longer than writing. I’m not sure exactly why. When I wrote the initial draft, I just wrote it and didn’t worry about pretty much anything other than getting the story ‘on paper’ so to speak. As I was revising, I was looking at each scene and taking into account the critiques I had received from the group. I was looking at each character, and each situation more closely.

I was also forced to cut some scenes and lines that I really liked from the first version. Okay, I wasn’t really forced, but during the course of the rewrite it became apparent those scenes and lines just were not going to fit into this version of the story. It was harder to let them go than I thought it would have been, and I fought the urge to find some place to shoehorn them back into the story, but it just didn’t work.

It was interesting looking at the places in the story where the critiques disagreed with one another. One person didn’t like the way I had written something, but another disagreed and thought it was fine as it was written, but had an issue with something else entirely. I looked at the story, and looked at what I was trying to accomplish. Ultimately, I had to make the call and go with one opinion over the other.

My biggest fear is that I’ve overcorrected. That’s a pretty common issue when you are learning a new skill. I tend to vacillate between not enough description and too much. I hope that in this draft, I’ve got the balance right.

This processes has removed any concern I’ve got over the relatively small word count I have for Dream Chaser. I’m getting closer to the end of the story, and I’m fairly certain the word count will be much less than the 80k I was shooting for. But then I looked at how my Unicorn story developed. The first draft was about 4,400 words. The second draft, the one I had critiqued, was about 5,200 words. My final draft is about 6,900 words. Each time I revised it the word count went up. I anticipate a similar scenario working out with Dream Chaser.

The title of the story also changed. That’s one of the changes I made that I wish I could have gotten some feedback on.

Besides being proud of myself for finishing the stuff I started, I’m also proud of myself for hitting nearly every deadline I was given. I did have to get a small 2 day extension of this final deadline. Working to deadlines is an important part of the writers life, and I’m glad that I was able to turn each step in on time. I’m usually a terrible procrastinator, and there were several nights when I chose to work on my story rather than indulge my passions of playing video games or watching football. I chose to make finishing this story a high priority and it worked.

I can’t remember where I read it, and I’ll have to search it, but someone once said that books (and short stories) aren’t so much finished as they are abandoned. At some point, you have to let it go. Whether that’s running up against a deadline, or just coming to the place where you know it’s time to work on something else, every story gets abandoned. I could have kept working on Unicorn for several more weeks and it would have kept getting better. But our copy editor has about 8 of these stories to edit, and he needs time to get through each oen so he can do a through job.

I’ll give her one more once over tonight and then I’ll save it and send it off to the copy editor. Once the anthology is done, I’ll be sure to let you know how to get your hands on it.

Edit: I have added an affiliate link for the How To Think Sideways course I'm taking. I'm enjoying it and I'll have a more through review once I'm done. It is an affiliate link so I get money if you use it to buy the course.


I Like Bubbles said...

Oh dear I don't want to ABANDON my stories.

I'd rather unleashed them into the world in their flawed adulthood, as best prepared as I can make them.

Ted said...

I really like that analogy. Thanks for sharing it with me. I can't wait to read your unicorn story soon.